"We must bear the criticism" - Bulgaria coach also feeling heat

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To listen to Bulgaria head coach Georgi Dermendzhiev is to eavesdrop on a bizarro-world version of Stephen Kenny. 

Where Kenny's poor run of results, and worse run of luck, have been met with optimism and faith, Dermendzhiev sounds like a man walking the plank.

Setting aside this month's 3-0 friendly win over Gibraltar, Bulgaria have lost all-but-one of their matches in 2020.

The only time they've avoided defeat is September's 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland in Sofia.

Of their six goals scored this year, 50 per cent of those came against Gibraltar.

Much like Ireland, Bulgaria's squad has been ravaged by COVID-19. They've lost nine players to the virus en route to Dublin.

Captain Vasil Bozhikov, goalkeeper Hristiyan Vassilev and full-back Dimitar Velkovski have all tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of PCR testing.

Before flying into Dublin, Dermendzhiev lashed out at the prevailing winds of negativity around his side.

"We are going to Dublin to have a good match," he said.

"Anything is possible and I have said it many times that we are going to win.

"For too long, the national side has been viewed very negatively, and it is very unpleasant.

"This is the reality and we must bear the criticism. But we have to make sure that we have patience and revive the national team."

Bulgaria were already without Georgi Terziev, Martin Raynov, Nikolay Mihailov, Kiril Despodov, Plamen Iliev, Georgi Kostadinov, Todor Nedelev, Anton Nedyalkov, Ismail Isa and Georgi Yomov for the match at the Aviva.

Dermendzhiev has backed his opposite number to field a strong side, regardless of thirteen withdrawals from the Ireland squad.

"They are a team at the European level," the Bulgarian manager said.

"They also have problems - punished and infected with COVID-19.

"We will see what team they will come up with, but whatever it is, you know what teams their players play in."

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Bulgaria Coronavirus Covid-19 Dermendzhiev Finland Georgi Dermendzhiev Ireland Nations League Republic Of Ireland Uefa Nations League

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